A poodle's dense, curly coat won't stay healthy without your attention. If the fur becomes matted, you have to groom her before the problem gets worse -- it won't get better without your help, so inspect her coat daily to make sure she's all right.
Spray the matted fur with a detangler or conditioner formulated for dogs. These lubricate the hair and make it easier to detach from itself.
Separate the matted fur lengthwise. You may do this using scissors or a mat splitter, a sharp tool designed to break up matted fur. Be careful not to tug on your poodle's skin or yank the hair out at the root as you separate -- use a picking-apart motion instead of a pulling motion.
Brush through less-matted fur with a slicker brush, then smooth it out with a bristle brush -- the bristle brush gathers up the dead, loose hair that can get caught in her curly coat and create more mats. You may need to pinch the matted hairs near the base, just above her skin, to prevent ripping them out or hurting your poodle.
Speak to your poodle in a calm, positive tone as you go, especially if the mats are difficult to work with. If lubricating, splitting and brushing do not work, you may have to cut out the matted fur, and poodles can become nervous when they see the scissors coming.
Grab her matted locks gently between your finger tips and hold them out, being careful not to tug on her skin. Cut the hair as close to the skin as you can and discard the matted bits you cut off.
Smooth out her remaining fur with a bristle brush.
- Brush your poodle daily to prevent mats from forming.
- Remember to divide and conquer when it comes to matted fur. A big clump of fur is almost impossible to brush out, but if you break it up into smaller pieces, your odds of success increase.
- Never bathe a poodle with matted fur. Instead of loosening the mats, it tightens them, making them even more difficult to undo.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.